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Foreign Parts (DVD Review)

23 Aug, 2012 By: Ashley Ratcliff

Kino Lorber/Alive Mind
$29.95 DVD
Not rated.

Nestled in the shadow of the New York Mets’ stadium is a desolate world where the scrapyards meet struggle.

Foreign Parts follows the lives of several dynamic personalities in the gritty Queens, N.Y., neighborhood. Lovers Sara and Luis try to make the most of their squalid state while living in an abandoned van that provides little warmth in the dead of winter. Joe works tirelessly to contest his impending eviction. Other nameless men lament what their lives are compared with what they could have been. People scrounge to earn a buck selling car parts and services.

That there isn’t any narration in the documentary makes its impact that much more profound. The film just moves from one scenario to the next with slight continuity, but there’s one commonality: Everyone’s trying to find their way. The cameraperson acts as a therapist of sorts to these people who freely confess their feelings like they’ve been waiting a long time for a listening ear.

While Foreign Parts records dark, depressing moments, there are glimmers of joy, as we find a pair of men singing spirited songs about their love of their home country, Puerto Rico. And although Julia, a junkyard vagrant, has little money, she finds occasions to laugh and twirl.

Even the most mundane actions captured on camera prove to be the most poetic. Somehow a man cutting the steering wheel out of a salvaged car and dragging it through the murky, pothole-lined street becomes symbolic of the very heart being ripped out of the neighborhood, which is on the brink of demolition.

It’s been a while since I’ve seen a documentary that was so candid, that hit so hard and drew a range of emotions. Having collected multiple film festival awards, Foreign Parts’ accolades are well deserved.

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